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Universal Health Coverage: a commitment to close the gap

Less than a decade ago , the idea that most nations in the world would commit to working toward achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) was seen as unlikely, and certainly not a priority for the global health community. Today, we face an entirely different landscape. Since the 2010 World Health Report Health Systems Financing: The Path to Universal Coverage, more than 70 countries have approached WHO to request technical assistance in moving forward on UHC. A movement has built among global and national actors, leading to the passage of the UN Resolution endorsed by more than 90 countries in December 2012 to make UHC a key global health objective. Commitment is increasing for UHC to be the umbrella health goal in the post-2015 framework.

In the meantime, success stories keep rolling in not only from early adopters such as Mexico, Thailand, Chile, Turkey, and Brazil, but from countries making greater efforts towards UHC more recently, including Ghana, Cambodia, and Turkey. For example, in Rwanda, a vision for moving towards UHC was key to its Vision 2020 health strategy developed in 2000. As a result, 90 percent of the population is now enrolled in the national plan, while 7 percent more are covered by civil, military and private insurance. Over the last ten years, health outcomes in Rwanda have improved dramatically, with infant mortality falling 60 percent, and deaths from HIV, TB, and malaria dropping 80 percent. At the same time, GDP per person has tripled, and Rwanda is the only country on track to meet most of its Millennium Development Goals.